Captain Bibeau’s lesson

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Jeff Bibeau is the kind of guy who can make you want to be 14 again, just so you can sit in his history class. Just ask the kids at Roseville Area Middle School who earlier this week lost one of their favorite teachers to the Minnesota National Guard and a coming deployment to Iraq.

Bibeau, a captain in the Guard, said when he first received word last month that he was being called to active duty, he couldn’t talk about the possibility of leaving his classes. “I told the people who needed to know… and then I decided I didn’t want to tell the students until I needed to. And so last Friday, just the weekend before I was leaving, I made the announcement and I let them ask me any questions they wanted to because by that time I had some time to collect myself, get myself together; it was very hard.”

It was hard for the students, too. They went home last weekend and told their parents. On Monday — Captain Bibeau’s last day — there were cards, letters, and brownies sent to school from grateful parents on behalf of disappointed kids.

“Mr Bibeau taught me to be skeptical, and as weird as that may sound, it’s important if you ever want to learn about what’s beneath the surface,” eighth grader Dan Hartmann said in an e-mail. “He told us about himself. I think my favorite part of the whole class is seeing how easy it can be to get someone to pay attention to you. History is the only class in which the teacher doesn’t have to shut the kids up by telling them to be quiet. When Mr. Bibeau talks, people listen.”

By just about any standards, Bibeau, 39, is a natural teacher, who can credit the military — he was in the Navy for years — with putting him in a classroom. “When I was in the Navy, we had this professor from the University of Texas and he lived on the ship for three years teaching classes. And he said, ‘absolutely, you need to be a history teacher.’ And so from that point on I couldn’t wait to get out of the Navy and go back to college and finish my teaching degree.”

He said he always felt as if history could be taught better than when he was in school, that his students could appreciate it more.

“Just to see the transformation and how they get into it and you can show them how if you take what’s going on today, you can give them numerous examples from the past. The only difference is the people involved and the place it occurs. And when they make that connection, it’s just awesome!

“I can remember I got a letter one time when I was deployed to Bosnia and a student said ‘I just wanted to thank you. I just got accepted to college and I’m going to become a history teacher,’” he said Wednesday.

Before he left class on Monday, he had one more lesson for the kids about the adult world.

“Time heals,” he told them. “By this time next year you’ll be focused on what you’re doing as ninth graders. It’s like at the end of the school year when you all go off your own way, you’re moving on to better things and if that happens and the e-mails dry up, I expect that to happen.”

And he had one more lesson for adults, about the world of 8th graders.

“They’re just normal people and I think unless you get to know them, you think they’re troublemakers, you think they’re hooligans, you think they’re all these things that they’re not . People always say ‘you teach 8th grade? I feel sorry for you.’ Why? Have you ever done it? It’s awesome. Some of them say they spend more time each day talking to me than they do with their parents, because everyone is working and doing these other things that they do. So, I think it’s important for a teacher to be involved and communicate with kids and make contact with them. It’s pretty neat.”

Audio excerpts (all mp3)

  • His path to the military
  • How he became a teacher
  • Making a difference
  • Saying goodbye to the kids
  • Everything you always wanted to know about 8th graders

    (This story originated from this earlier post on News Cut. We all know people making a difference. What’s your story?)

    • Mike Bierscheid

      First Bosnia and now Iraq… A truer patriot of the USA cannot be found.

      Godspeed, Capt. Bibeau. We await your safe return. You make the USA, and Minnesota, proud!

    • Todd Richter

      Thanks for recognizing the impact and sacrifice that Captain Bibeau is making to serve his country. Each day he touches the lives of family, friends, and hundreds of impressionable 14 year olds. He does it with respect, intelligence, and humor, though not necessarily in the same order each day!

      His boots are too big to fill and it would take several platoons to accomplish what Bibeau does on a daily basis.

      It is great to work with him and it is an honor to be his friend.

      Oh Captain My Captain!!!

    • John Simso

      Thank you for the service and sacrifice that you are making to our country! It’s an honor to know you.

    • Jim – a parent

      Nearly every day my son has brought home stories from Mr. Bibeau’s class. They were always about something fun or unusual and without fail some nugget of learning that was gained.

      I admire Mr. Bibeau’s commitment and sacrifice providing yet another learning opportunity for his 8th graders. It’s hard to imagine Mr. Bibeau serving our country better than as a teacher for our children, I hope he will be able to return soon.

    • Sandra Evans

      Mr. Bibeau, Captain,

      Thank you so much for your sacrifice. I’m sorry my children didn’t get to have you as a teacher (not for more than a month anyway) but I was honored to care for some of your family. Let them know if there is anything they need–call.

      I’m sure you’ll make the kind of difference there that you do here.

    • Annette Simmons

      Thank You Captain Bibeau for your service to students and to our country. Take care in Iraq!

    • Jeff Richert

      Jeff,

      We all hope you are back in front of a class of 8th graders asap. Take care of yourself.

    • Sam J.

      Mr.B you were one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

      Just to let you know we are making a video for you on the rams report if you want us to send it to you just e-mail me.

      Don’t worry. A lot of us will be back to visit

    • Ben

      BIBEAU RULES!

      Pretty much the most enthusiastic teacher I’ve ever had. His class was the opposite of a bore-fest.

    • Ben Heins

      Dear Mr. Bibeau,

      You were the best teacher I have ever had, or likely to have. Everyone I talk to who had you as a teacher wishes you good luck. You changed my perspective on life, and the world, and I will never forget your lessons and all the fun I had in your class. Best wishes and hope you are home soon!

    • Max L.

      Mr. Bibeau you were the best teacher i ever had.

      As soon as you get back i have to visit you again.

    • Meara H.

      Mr. Bibeau-

      Well, I’m realizing now its just going to be random people looking at this page, not Mr. Bibeau any time soon, but hey.

      I just wanted to say that that guy right there changed my view on life, a person’s mind, and pretty much anything else our class ever got to discussing. Whether he knows it or not, he’s touched every single student that’s ever gone through a class of his. He made a steryotypically boring class a laughing-fest, and always kept you thinking.

      GET BACK IN ONE PIECE MR. BIBEAU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your students miss/need you!!!!!!!!!!

    • Caitlyn S.

      Mr. Bibeau…

      You are the best teacher I have ever had. I learned so much about not only history, but life in general. I cannot wait to come visit when you come back. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

    • Bob Collins

      Hi folks: I’ve sent Mr. B the URL of this page. He WILL see it. And soon.

    • Sam J.

      By the way

      hows that web cam poster idea coming along?

    • Denny Cook

      Mr. Bibeau,

      You were the greatest teacher ever, I could actually pay attention without trying and you were always joking and laughing and its so hard to believe and I promise you I will vist when you get back.

      Thank you for everything, most importantly Defending our country

    • Victoria Blackstone

      Mr. Bibeau,

      Even though you may remember me as the student who read during your class, I want you to know how much I got out of what I did pay attention to during your class. You made history a whole different class for me.

      Thank you for joining those that are defending our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (property! :)).

      I wish that I could have had the chance to come and see you. I would’ve liked to talk to you. I have a question for you, too!

      I pray that God may bring you home safe.

      Victoria

    • steven shake

      MR. BIBEAU

      your probably the best teacher i’ve had and probably the funniest you gotta come see us before you go

    • Garrett Blomstrand

      Mr. Bibeau, you are definately one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. You always had a way to get the whole class interested in what you were talking about. Have a safe deployment, and make sure you get back in the classroom.

      -Garrett Blomstrand

    • Jason Lund

      Jeff-

      Take care, cuz. Be safe and don’t let the hagasaurs get you down.

    • hailey zaccardi

      mr.bibeau.

      thanks for everything you’ve taught me.

      your an amazing teacher.

      and i mean thattt.

      stay safe out there(:

      &come visit your second hour.

      its not going to be the same without ya.

    • Anna Rollinger

      Mr. Bibeau:

      Every day I came into your class and I knew I was going to learn something new and have fun doing it. Everyone loves to be in your class – it’s so much fun! You are just a fun and wonderful teacher and I miss not getting to hear any of your fun and entertaining stories that you would tell us. You had a lot of stories :-). I hope you stay safe and come home soon. There are a lot of people that miss you and want you home safe. I also want you to know that you are and always will be my favorite teacher ever.

      Anna Rollinger

    • Mandi Van Nevel

      Hey Mr Bibeau!!!! I hope you know that I am expecting you to be back to teach my little sister Tina. I can’t wait for her to hear your amazing stories and it is/was so fun to be in your third hour honors class this year. I hope you are at night of the notables so you can point out how each and everyone of us who have flags on the board probably got the wrong one, or be impressed that we did our research and got the right ones. Just tell everyone out in Iraq to ” Don’t Tread On Me!!!”

      Hope to see you soon…..

      Mandi Van Nevel

    • Alia Jeraj

      Mr. Bibeau I hope you get a chance to read this! Social studies isn’t the same without you and like Sara H. said when I asked her if she liked the sub, we’re not sure yet but we’re doing him a HUGE favor by not comparing him to you!

      You actually got me interested in history which always used to be my least favorite subject and I remember how you said there will always be those few teachers you remember when you’re out of school and have a career and you’ll definately be one of those teachers who everyone remembers!!

      Come back safe!

      -Alia J.

    • Maita

      thank you for you help even though i barely know you! Ur AWESOME!

    • Jeff

      I have just read through all the comments and am quite moved. I thank all of you for your comments. And, to the students…do great things!

      I may still do the webcam…so watch out for Ben Franklin’s eyes!

    • Maita

      yes ofcoarse i am commenting again because i didn’t get to finish in the first post

      i thank you very much for what you are doing and sacrifising

      i have heard from many people say taht you were a great teacher and well you probably are.

      i have not known you that well and sadly not one of your stucents but i believe taht you are an awesome teacher and hope that you are back at RAMS soon

      Best wishes! ^^

    • Kathryn Jacobson

      Mr. Bibeau:

      We all miss you! My sister was so sad when she found out that you might not be back for the 2008- 09 school year. She really wanted to have you as a teacher. I hope you have a safe time over there and that you return safetly. And for those of you who have not had Mr. Bibeau are/did miss out on the most fun you will ever have in a history class. I had it 7th hour so I went home happy every single day because our class had such a good time.

      Kathryn

    • Cassondra Curtis

      CPT Jeff Bibeau-

      From one soldier to another, I wish you a safe tour. I’ve never been in one of your history classes, but I can say that your leadership style is inspiring! We were very lucky to have you as a commander in Bosnia and I am confident the soldiers you have under you this time will feel the same way!

      Take care,

      SSG Cassondra Curtis

    • Stacey Allbee

      CPT Bibeau-

      Good Luck with your upcoming tour! You really have been an inspiration to all that have worked for you. Thank you for all you do!

      Stacey

      fka-SPC Allbee

    • marie schroeder

      Mr.Bibeau-

      You were one of my favorite teachers. you didnt teach like other teachers, you cared about what each of us had to say (no matter how irrelavant and dumb the stories were…) thanks for everything and come home safe.

      -marie schroeder

      p.s. i WILL get you a schroeder shirt :]

    • Sam J

      now im really jealous of all these students who had mr.b for a full year and ill never get this experiance agian.

    • Samantha Cook

      Mr. Bibeau!

      I hope you remember me, otherwise this will just be awkward and random. A couple weeks ago Caitlin Bean told me you were going to Iraq and i didn’t believe her. my cousin just got back in august. It was a sucky 2 years when he was gone. anyway, then we were going to come visit you on the monday before you left, because we didn’t have school. But she was sick, and I thought you wouldn’t be there. But apparently you were and now i’m mad I didn’t come.

      You were my favorite teacher ever, and probably the best i’ll ever have. Haven’t found one quite like you yet, and i’m already over halfway done with my sophmore year. Your class was the one I always looked forward to. I actually really hate history when you’re not teaching it. (I hope my teacher doesn’t read this). When you come back, you can expect me and Caitlin to come visit you right away. But until then, you can expect we’ll track down your email and write.

      Have a safe trip, come home safe!

      -”Cook”

      ps my brother Ben says hi. : )

    • Shelly Paul

      Oh Captain, My Captain,

      Everything they say about you is so true. Of all the teachers I ever had from kindergarten through high school graduation you were always my favorite. Those of us that have been fortunate enough to have you teach us know how much impact you can have on our lives. Whenever talk of old teachers came up you were first for everyone, sharing stories about you and times that you really impressed us with being not only a great teacher but also an amazing person. My, and my friend’s younger siblings who have had you say the same things. You remain to stand out in everyone’s mind. You are so brave and I am so proud to say that I knew you. We are all hoping and praying for your safe return, but regardless, we will never forget you.

      your student,

      Shelly Paul

    • Kim Kunkel

      Mr. Bibeau

      Third hour honors social studies just isn’t the same. We all miss you and all your funny stories! I hope you have a safe trip over and when you get back I will most deffinatly be coming and visiting you along with those other friends of mine! :]

    • Vanessa Lebens

      Hey Mr. Bibeau/Bebo/Beebs/beebster!

      I pretty much freaked out when I heard that you were being shipped out in September. I miss your class so much, and wish that you could switch places with my teacher this year!!!!

      You’ve always told your students to “Do great things,” now it looks like its your turn. Stay Strong buddy:)

      Good luck Beebs and we’ll all miss you.

      ~Laymans~

    • Elaine

      Mr. Bibeau!!

      I don’t even know where to start. I had soo much fun in your class. I loved your class and the random visits from Mr. Bowser. You were funny and you treated us with respect, we were on the same level you never sugar coated anything and I loved it. You are one of my favorite teachers and I just looked through my yearbook and saw a picture you drew for me that said ‘stay cool’ and it brought back soo many memories.

      I can’t wait for you to be back so that other students can experience the joys of having you as a teacher. Rock On man.

      Elaine

    • David Vu

      Mr. Bibeau, this is David Vu from last year. I couldn’t believe it when Anna Rollinger mention that you were getting shipped, so I had to check this out myself to believe. You are the best teacher a student could ask for. The way you teach is “unique.” I wish you all the best luck in the world. I’ll visit when you come back with some other students that had you. Return safely !

      P.S.: YOU ROCK !

    • Rachel Evans

      hi mr bibeau!!!

      you were the best teacher ever! u cared about what all of us had to say and you had good answers to all of my questions! the sub guy is nice- but i always forget his name. PLUS the conversations are not as interesting as they were when you were the teacher. (they are sort of more borringish and bookish and not as funny. plus he doesnt have as good of stories about evil chawawhas.) but he is still a good sub. guess what! i am helping with the video productions thingy about you! (i got interviewed!!!) ok, well i hope that you are having fun whereever you are!!!

      ~Rachel

      PS- i hope that wherever you are going does not have evil beavers or crocodiles or something, because that would be really scary!!!

    • Anne Swanson

      Hey Mr.Bibeau

      I couldn’t believe it when i heard you got shipped out. You were my favorite teacher, your class was the best all year. Thanks for making it fun. I wish you the best of luck and come back safe.

    • Eric Wall

      Bibeau,

      Good Luck, come back in one piece, my thoughts are with you.

    • Marissa B

      Bibeau was the best social studies teacher ever! Night of the Notables would have been nothing without him! I remember how all of the classes he taught had everyone on their toes because he was so unpredictable. Stay safe Mr. Bibeau, you are freaking awesome. I hope you can come back and see your family and friends soon.

    • Shelly Joyce

      Mr. Bibeau,

      You are by far the best teacher I have ever had. I enjoyed every minute of your class. Good luck over there. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family! God bless.

      Shelly Joyce

    • Michelle Turner

      Mr. Bibeau was the best teacher I’ve ever had. He made history fun and relevant to our modern world which is hard to do. He’s definitely the teacher that sticks out in my mind when I think of middle school and when I was in high school I often wished he would transfer to the high school to take over the history classes there. I’ll be praying for you Bibeau! Come back safe!

    • Megan Stuart

      ‘Sup Bibeau! I really miss having you as a teacher. I greatly appreciate all the hard work you put in to make each lesson so full of info. Your class was so much fun and I looked forward to it everyday. Best of luck! I hope you come home safe. :)

    • Maggie Strait

      Hey Mr.Bibeau,

      I just want to say thank you for everything you do.

      You always listened to everything we had to say you laughed at our jokes, made fun of us (politely), and most of all taught us. You didn’t just teach us history, you taught us about life. You shared stories that left us on the edge of our seats (literly!) and filled our heads with memories we will never forget.

      p.s. Jackie says hi, and hopes for your safe return.

      See you at night of the notables.

      MAGGIE Strait..not Jackie haha.

    • Stephanie Wiberg

      Hi Bibeau!

      Wow! You’re a history teacher??? That’s so awesome! I can tell your students think you’re hilarious! That is definitely what I remember about you.

      Send us a note sometime, if you get the chance.

      Peace,

      Steph (Lynard) Wiberg

      From UWRF

    • Tama Crotts

      Jeff,

      I just found out that you are due to leave for Iraq, myself not being one of your very impressed students…I’m so saddened but know this is what you do. You have touched so many lives and will continue to touch every moment that you spend talking to anyone and everyone. You are just a captivating person. I knew you would do great things always – the days of Gaeta and the Navy are long gone, but you continue to inspire and teach everyone you come in contact with. I will pray for you and your family (I know this must be very hard not only for you to leave your family), but gosh your family just has given the ultimate sacrafice too having to survive long periods of time without you there. You have inspired me to think so many times about my life (past and present) and you always seem to know what to say to make a situation better. I hope you return quickly and safely to your family and am actually jealous of the people you will serve with because they are truly blessed to know you as everyone that has ever come in contact with you has – you can tell how much you mean to people just by reading these messages. I know for me that it is so touching knowing that you care and touch the lives of our young children; there is so little of that in this world today. Our kids are our future and we as parents don’t take the time to realize that sometimes!

    • Anthony

      I’m lucky enough to have served with Jeff way back in his Navy days. Would never have guessed back then that he’d continue on in the military, but can’t think of many people I’d rather see representing us in areas of conflict.

      Jeff, you’re going to bring back with some incredible experiences to share with your students. They’re fortunate to have you.

      –Tony

    • Jessie Martineau

      Mr Bibeau.

      its seems like forever since you left. class just isn’t the same without you. i remember on the first day you said there was a chance you could be deployed. i never thought it would happen.

      At first i didn’t respond to my first name in that class because I’m so used to you calling me martineau. and everybody else by their last names.

      We don’t get to use notes on the test and we do a lot of book work. You never know what you have until its gone.” the saying is true.

    • Abe Obeidat

      Hey Mr. Bibeau or should I say, Captain Bibeau. It’s me, Abraham Obeidat. I’d just like to speak on behalf of everyone, we miss you a lot. I always admired your way of teaching, I never understood how history could be so fun. You’re one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and have the best teaching style I’ve ever experienced. Return soon Captain Bibeau.

      Sincerely Abe Obeidat

    • Amy Brucker

      Hey Bibeau.

      I found this page accidentally. I’m a bit in shock…there are so many people you’ve made an impression on. If only they knew what YOU were like in high school!!! :-) Ha. I can’t help but think of the skunk incident.

      My heart is with you, my friend.

      Amy Brucker

    • Andrew Stout

      SJB,

      Your impact has always been profound. It is a treat to see you through the eyes of those you touch. Keep that sense of humor well greased and be prepared to share more stories, we all will be needing a bit of Bibeau.

      Take care,

      Andrew

    • Holly K.

      Hey Jeff!

      Tim Stout said you’d been deployed… Just saw him this weekend in California.

      Take care of yourself! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

      By the way, I’m so glad you are spreading your Bibeau charm, clearly your students love you to pieces — just like the rest of us! HK

    • Pa Kou Yang

      Wow, No one told me about this page thingy.

      Wella Hi Mr.Bibeau!

      I have to tell you that everything, I mean everything has changed in the classroom when you left and after Mr.Dahmes took over. I never spoke a word in class anymore. 5th Hour drove the new teacher CRAZY! They just kept talking and talking. It was horrible. Haha. I felt so sorry for him, yet I didn’t really enjoy the way he taught. There was never like BARELY, any humor in the classroom. It was sad to hear that you had to leave, you know what I was going to ask you? I was going to ask you to be my badminton partner.HAHA. I think we would of owned and became champs. But then you had to go, so I asked Mr.Simso. It was awesome though. I’m still champ. two years in a row! I’m legend! But anyways, He wants me to join tennis this fall at Rahs. So I guess I’ll try out. =D and Basketball, If i make it on the varsity team, then woot woot! You’re pretty good at basketball Mr. Bibeau, I dont know if you reconize that but yeah you are. haha, Alright I’ll close up, I hope you the best and I just wanted to say thanks for everything you have done for me and for others. It’s indescribable because I’m bad at expressing it. ahha. But God Bless you and come home safe and soon. I’ll keep you in my prayers. :]

      _pakou

    • Jamey

      I never thought at 35 an article about a man such as Cpt. Bibeau could make me tear up but as I read through the article I was reminded of the Officer, man, friend and most of all the teacher that Jeff is. He touches those around him in ways that are hard to forget.

      Modesty rules the day with Jeff. Simply one of the highest quality military professionals I served with in my 13 years in the Navy, Air Force and Army. He is successful at everything he does, he lives through passion which naturally extends to those around him.

      An asset to his family, our community and our country!

      Best wishes,

      SPC Webster (retired)

    • Jodi Walker-Robinson

      Jeff: You are in mine and Jodi’s prayers. I will be in Iraq soon as well. As far as I know I will be in Basrah. They are building a new post there for us as we are replacing the 10th MTN DIV. Come home safely.

      JODI: Hey Jeff! Loved the video. The kids are too cute. It’s nice there are ways for you to stay connected. RAMS is not the same without you but we look forward to your homecoming.

    • Kimberly Miller

      hey Mr.Bibeau you were an awesome teacher to have. My now eigth graade friends are mad that they didn’t get to have you as a teacher. You did your very best to help us make sure that we succeed in your class. I hope that you get to meet my Uncle Captain Randall Miller. He went as a chaplin. I hope that you both com back alive. He is coming back a year after you but I know that God will do as he pleases. I will keep you both in my prayers.

      -Kimberly Miller

    • jamie boggio and jay myles

      MR.BIBEAU ITS JAY AND JAMIE WAT IS UP WE R GOIN TO FIND U ON FACEBOOK, YOU SHOULD JUST ADD US BECAUSE WEE WHENT THROUGH ALL THIS WORK TO FIND YOU…PLLEEEEEEEEZ

    • kaela juaire && leigh stephenson!(:

      Mr.Bibeau is the best teacher EVER!!! you are our favorite teacher.. you are sitting in front of us now. Today has been fun even though we should be doing our project and you told us not to go on here but we did! lol im sorry. well hav fun with next hour!!(: from kaela and leigh in 5th hourr!(: DECEMBER 17TH :D

    • kaela juaire && leigh stephenson!(:

      Mr.Bibeau is the best teacher EVER!!! you are our favorite teacher.. you are sitting in front of us now. Today has been fun even though we should be doing our project and you told us not to go on here but we did! (laughing) im sorry. well havefun with next hour!!(: from kaela and leigh in 5th hour!(: DECEMBER 17TH :D

      AQUAIRIUS CRRSSSHSSSHHHHSHSHHHH:D

      ROSEVILLE RAIDERS!(: (not dorado!)

    • Christina”Kren”Krenik

      Hey Beibster!

      I remember when i had your class it was the best learning experience i have ever had! I miss you and i will come see you one day and you will remember me and ray ray always coming in to mess with you!!! Everyone misses you!

      -Kren-Kren